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Jerrie Cobb, America's first female astronaut candidate, dies at 88

Cobb didn't make it to space but helped forge a path for women in space programs.

jerrie cobb

Pilot Jerrie Cobb was part of the Mercury 13. 


Jerrie Cobb, a pilot, an equality trailblazer and America's first female astronaut candidate, died March 18 at 88 years old. Cobb passed away after a brief illness, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

In 1961, she became the first woman to pass all three phases of the Mercury astronaut program. Despite her accomplishment, Cobb wasn't allowed to continue with the astronaut corps. At the time, only military test pilots were allowed to become astronauts and there weren't any female test pilots in the military.

Cobb was among 13 other women who passed the program's test. The group became known as the Mercury 13. In 1962, Cobb testified before a congressional panel to make a case for women in NASA.

"We seek, only, a place in our nation's space future without discrimination," Cobb said. She flew for decades as a humanitarian aid pilot in the Amazon jungle. Her autobiography, released in 1997, was titled Jerrie Cobb, Solo Pilot.

Cobb was among the women profiled in a Netflix documentary, Mercury 13, that was released last year.